The WSCL Blog

News and information about WSCL's Classical Music Programming

Friday, March 27, 2015

Just Opened - March 27th, 2015

We began our new releases early today, with selections played from this first CD as part of our after-the-news-at-noon-series.

Mary Queen of Scotts & Her World
Parthenia (consort of viols)
Ryland Angel, tenor & countertenor
Dongsok Shin, virginal
Parthenia's official website
ISBN# 6 81585 14902 7
Featured today as part of our series "Courtly Love and The Cult of The Virgin" was a new release by Parthenia, dedicated to Mary Queen of Scotts.  We played the group of works from the Court of Queen Elizabeth I, songs and fancies.  Pathenia have performed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and have a growing international reputation for their warmth of sound, musical excellence, ensemble playing, and illuminating performances of historic music.  (Aired earlier today and this week, in connection with our after-the-news-at-noon series "Courtly Love and the Cult of the Virgin.")

Barbara Padilla, soprano
London Symphony Orchestra
Moon Moosic Records 1401
ISBN# 8 88295 06090 5
Classical Crossover Singer Padilla has come to international attention through her appearance on "America's Got Talent," but she had plenty of legitimate credentials.  She began singing in highschool, studying with the premier voice teacher of her home town, Guadelajara Mexico.  After completing her Masters in 2004 from Houston University's Moores School of Music, she was being cast in operas and also teaching voice.  She has been open about her battle with Hodgkin's Lymphoma and was expected to never sing again after agressive chemotherapy and radiation, but in 2009 she sang on America's Got Talent followed by a 13 week concert series in Las Vegas.   Her favorites include arias, masterworks, and lighter pop fare, and her style is now referred to as "popera."  This CD showcases her diversity with mixed arrangements, some works with orchestral backing, others with chamber group.

Complete Works for Harpsichord 
Karen Flint, Harpsichord
PL21401 - 3 CD Set
ISBN# 8 88295 07195 6
My Delight of the Week.  Karen Flint has incredible musical perspicacity.  Her body of recorded work for harpsichord, both solos and with the Brandywine Baroque continue to amaze.  Having recorded complete works of some of the better known french Harpsichord masters, she now provides us with a lesser known name, and intoduces many of us to the works of Nicolas Lebeque and Jacques Hardel. 

Trans-Cultural Bonding
Arkady Leytush, conductor/arranger
MSR 1518
ISBN# 6 81585 15182 2
Prolific living composer (born in 1932 in New York) Sisler has created a body of work that focuses on world peace.  These are orchestral works that blend in folk music and instrumental traditions from around the world.  Conductor Arkady Leytush of the Israeli Symphony Orchestra was orchestrator of many of these works, and conducts the various orchestras on this CD.  Sisler's interweaving of folk melodies from various countries help make these works very accessible, and the artistic intention behind the works warm the heart.

Oboe and Other Things
Colin Maier, oboe
CMCD 002
ISBN# 0 61297 44041 2
Multi-talented is an understatement for the ebullient performer musician Colin Maier.   Early on in his career in music, he incorporated his sense of humor and acrobatic skill.  He plays at least 13 instruments at a level of recording multiple parts on his CDs, and he has composer friends who have written works specifically for him to record all the parts.  He has traveled and toured extensively as a solo performer and with the internationally acclaimed Quartetto Gellato.  He programs his CDs with a variety that both "prove his mettle" and satisfy the listener with an interplay of works new and familiar, all with an ear to pleasing his audience.  His CD covers display his wit, and ... all this paired with a creamy smooth playing sound that has made him a sought after soloist with many groups and orchestras.

Special Thanks to our S.U. practicum Taylor Goebel for pulling together the pictures and basic info. on the CDs to help you find the music you like a little more easily!
Kara Dahl Russell

Friday, March 20, 2015

Just Opened - March 20th, 2015

We continue our Just Opened celebration of Women's History month with many new releases by female artists, performers and composers, performing solo and in "concert" with others.

Yolanda Kondonassis, harp
Jason Vieaux, guitar
ACD 71297
ISBN# 7 8786 7 1297 2 2
Jason Vieaux is riding high right now, having just won a 2015 Classical Grammy for his solo guitar CD, "Play."   He and harpist Yolanda Kondonassis have worked together for quite a while, and the blend of their playing on this CD is mesmerizing.  There are many times when the listener can not tell which is playing, and if only one is playing, or both.  Some of this is a natural sonic compatibility of two plucked string instruments, and it is heightened by the magnificent playing of both performers.  Several of these works are new commissions, some (Like Hovhanness's "Spirit of Trees") have been around for awhile, but still rarely performed.  As with any CD of new compositions, there are challenging works that may not be a favorite, but many of the works have the rhythm and spirit one expects of spanish guitar, making this CD of mostly new or unfamiliar works highly accessible.

Simone Dinnerstein, piano
Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra
Kristjan Jarvi, cond.
Sony Classical Records
ISBN# 8 8875 03245 2 8
My Delight of the Week.  For someone who tried to publicize herself as a musical "outsider," Simone Dinnerstein is about as hot in music circles as anyone.  In 7 years she has had 12 major label releases, both solo and working with big names like Zuill Bailey, and - as here - with major orchestras.  While Dinnerstein is best known for major solo keyboard works of Bach, and more complex and introspective Romantic era works, the program on this CD is sure to please.  Ravel's Piano Concerto in G is paired with an infectious, melodic new work by Philip Lasser called "The Circle and the Child." (Lasser's work is the reason that this CD is my delight of the week.  What a pleasant surprise!)  The program is topped off with Gershwin's ever popular, "Rhapsody In Blue."

Maria Wildhaber, bassoon
MSR 1517
ISBN# 6 81585 15172 3
Wildhaber's rich basson sound takes us through a variety of sound worlds on mostly new works, including her own compostion for two bassons - arrangements of Bulgarian folk music.  As with most "recital" CDs today, some of the works are technically and melodically challenging, but there are many others here that provide a velvety rich melody and that smooth creamy sound.  Obviously, a solo bassoon CD is not going to be the first thing that people think they have to rush out and buy, but for people who play the bassoon, and those who understand and love reed instruments, the works here provide new repertoire possibilities, and fine listening.

Quire Cleveland
Ross W. Duffin, cond.
QC 104
ISBN# 8 88295 14733 0
Another Choral gem from Quire Cleveland, and this one in plenty of time to have in advance for all the summer patriotic festivals.  Quire Cleveland has been intentional about creating a catalogue of their repertoire, which results in a wealth of options for their audience for the Holidays and in between.The works here include settings of religious and secular works, mostly by American Composers ranging from John Playford to Amy Beach and Nathaniel Dett.

Thanks again to our S.U. Practicum Taylor Goebel for her help pulling together the pictures and basic info. on the CDs to help you get more information on your favorites.
Kara Dahl Russell

Monday, March 16, 2015

"Courtly Love and The Cult of The Virgin" Resources

If you have been following our after-the-news-at-noon series for Women's History Month, "Courtly Love and The Cult of the Virgin" we hope that you've noticed this is one of the most complex music history series that we have done here on WSCL-FM.  And, it's just the tip of the ice berg!  If you are interested in finding out more, here are our resources.  

Special thanks to DPR's S.U. practicum student, Taylor Goebel, who was my reasearch assistant on this series, and was especially helpful in gathering biographies.  And she also put together the resource listing by topics for easier use.

Our time period of focus, 1000 - 1200 is so incredibly rich in social, political, religious and artistic growth, that even this extended series just scratches the surface.  If you are interested in finding out more, we wanted to give you places to go.  (And of course, we always encourage you to find out more at your local Public Library.)

Civilisation: The Complete SeriesI've actually been mulling this idea about for almost 2 years.  The springboard idea for the series came from the BBC series (available on DVD) called "Civilization" written and hosted by Lord Kenneth Clark.  The series is widely available online on DVD through many online retailers, and I think it is one of the best series ever made.  His premise is that architecture, literature, art, and music combine to define periods of Civilzation.  The 3rd episode, on Courtly Love, sparked the idea for this series, perhaps because he said he found the works of Cretienne de Troyes unreadable!

My main resource for this series was the DVD lecture series "The High Middle Ages" taught by Dr. Philip Daileader of William and Mary College.  The depth, complexity, and amount of material in this series is monumental, and his coverage of it is magnificent, and includes many "reality checks" to help the viewer restructure the mindset to try to understand how things were viewed by people who lived during this time period.  If you've been interested in my series, you'll find this course a great place to find out much, much more:
In credit to the folks at Great Courses, they are a great resource for me personally, and I have purchased many related courses which I have viewed that have informed my thought and knowledge of this time period.

Resources by Topic 
Marian Devotion
Arthurian Legend
Biographies on Charlemagne, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Marie de Champagne
Courtly Love
Andreas Capellanus, The Art of Courtly Love
William Farina, Chretien de Troyes and the Dawn of Arthurian Romance
Other Resources that covered a variety of topics

Just Opened - March 13th, 2015

As we continue our recognition of Women's History Month, we have a variety of new releases featuring women, and dance music releases.

The Journey of Queen Vashti & Queen Esther
David Homan, composer
Homan's Official Website
ISBN# 8 88295 13969 4
Here are two riveting, accessible new chamber works for Ballet which premiered at the Alvin Ailey Dance Company in 2014.  The Ariel Rivka Dance company, led by choregrapher Ariel Grossman
and composer David Homan, devised these new ballets of "female empowerment" based on Biblical texts.  They are written for an interesting chamber ensemble of piano, guitar, violin, clarinet, and cello.  The set that was sent to our station included a CD of the music, and a DVD of the ballets.  I'm finding the CD/DVD set difficult to locate online for purchase - your best bet is to contact them through their websites (listed above).

Paris Conservatoire Connections for Flute & Piano
Francesca Arnone, flute
Terry Lynn Hudson, piano
Arnone's Official Website
More info on Hudson
MSR 1431
ISBN# 6 81585 14312 4
My Delight of the Week.  This CD of works by mostly modern era composers, works composed for the Paris Conservatory, are a genuine surprise of accessibility and melody. Koechlin and Roussel are perhaps the best known composer names on the CD. Both are known for a sparkling sound in their orchestral works, and so the flute suits their musical voice; but the lesser known composers delight as well.  If you play and/or teach the flute, this is a natural pick, and a great encouraging gift for young flautists... but this will be an interesting, unusual, and appreciated gift for many music lovers who just might not have a flute and piano CD on their radar.

Spirit & Romance
Anna Shelest, piano
Shelest's Official Website
SC CD 001
ISBN# 8 88295 06021 9
In a crowed field of breathtakingly talented young pianists, Anna Shelest has been hailed as "the Franz Liszt of today." She has won competitions, performed at Carnegie Hall, and this CD is a major recognition in itself.  A new record label, Sorel Classics - dedicated to recording female performers and composers - chose her to be the artist of their first release.  Shelest shows her fire in these Romantic era works (and transcriptions) by Bach, Liszt, Schubert, Wagner and Schumann.

Joel Fan, piano
Fan's Official Website
Reference Records 134
ISBN# 0 30911 11342 1
The PR for this CD was - somewhat disconcertingly - called an "Anti Concerto" CD.  For those of us - and that means for a LOT of our listeners - who love Piano Concertos in general... it gave us some pause.  No need to pause, however, just go pick this one up!  These are works for piano and orchestra, played magnificently.  These are delightful works that are so often overlooked in the repertoire, only because they are not the big Concertos.  Overdue, and very welcome, is this program of works filled with melody, many of them either titled dance, or created for dance.  If this is a sample of the smaller works for piano and orchestra, please sir, may we have some more?!

Special thanks to our S.U. practicum, Taylor Goebel for pulling together the basic pix and details of this week's releases.  Join us again on Friday starting at 1PM for more new releases, "Just Opened."
Kara Dahl Russell

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Ivan Ilic & Feldman's "Le Palais de Mari"

This morning on "You Asked for It"  we featured a 1986 work by Morton Feldman called "Le Palais de Mari."  It is featured on Ivan Ilic's recent highly praised release "The Transcendentalist."  Ivan Ilic basically asked for this himself, by highlighting the piece in a recent interview.

Ivan Ilic, piano
Heresy CD #015
ISBN# 5 060268 640443

In addition to being an acclaimed piano performer, Ilic is a frequently published writer about music, about musical research, and a deeply thoughtful person who is fascinating to interview (you can find my interview of him under "Classical Chat").

In this interview, he expresses his opinion that this particular work by Feldman will become an essential work for pianists, and he also discusses many other concepts regarding performance and recording of great piano works.  Another fascinating interview (on a well known piano blog website):

While other CDs of Ilic may be musically more accessible and more traditional programs, this particular CD has gathered tremendous critical attention, and has been mentioned on several lists as one of the most important classical releases of last year.
Ilic has had articles about music published in many major U.S. newspapers, and his interviews in Europe have become an essential part of the conversation about music performance today. 

Kara Dahl Russell

Friday, February 27, 2015

Just Opened - February 27, 2015

Today we have a mix of chamber works and orchestral scores for film.   For quite a few years now, I've been mentioning the relatively small number of orchestral works that we have released.  It's about 3 orchestral releases (including the new, a-melodic composers) for every 20 solo piano releases, then there are the vocal recital releases, mostly sopranos, then come the individual instrumentalist recital releases, and the chamber releases only slightly outnumber the orchestral releases.  So we're dipping back a bit for a CD that is not new, but ought to refresh some fond musical and visual memories, music from 3 major Merchant Ivory films, and a new release that features a work that was the major part of a French film from the same time period.

Merchant Ivory Productions
Original Film Recordings
Music by Richard Robbins
ANGEL/EMI 28956 (3CD set)
ISBN# 7 2438 28956 2 6
For more info. on Merchant Ivory films
Released back in 1994, the film scores to these 3 Merchant Ivory films help explain their box office success.  These scores included performances by renowned groups.  The Maurice score including a performance of Allegri's "Miserere" performed by King's Choir Cambridge, and of course, the soundtrack to A Room With A View featured Puccini arias sung by Kiri Te Kanawa (which she recently reprised as a high profile bit player on "Downton Abbey.")

Chamber Music IV
St. Louis Chamber Players
MSR 1259
Official website of Harbach
Another in the continuing series of recordings of the Chamber Works of living composer Barbara Harbach.   This set includes a 3 song cycle (lyrics for 2 parts by Harbach) in the voice of Harriett Scott (of the Dred-Scott renown), and the 3rd song's lyrics in the words of Harriett Tubman.  Other works on this CD are "Incanta" for chamber ensemble, and a work for brass entitled "The Sounds of St. Louis."  Harbach holds degrees from multiple instutions including The Eastman School of Music, Yale, and a conservatory in Frankfurt.  She initiated "Women in the Arts" a celebration of women creators, and she has toured extensively as a concert organist and harpsichordist, as well as being involved in the research, editing and publication of music by keyboard composers of the 1700s.

Ravel & Chausson
ISBN# 0 90404 94402 4
Official website of Trio Solisti
My Delight of the Week!  The critical raves for this trio of soloists speak eloquently.  The New Yorker hailed them as "the most exciting piano trio in America, with a performance style that includes exceptional virtuosity with penetrating musical insight."  Strad Magazine wrote of their "glorious music with rare commitment and insight."  The Wall Street Journal critic proclaimed them to "succeed the Beaux Arts Trio as the outstanding chambermusic ensemble of its king."  This CD features a pairing of two major trios by Ravel and Chausson.   The Ravel work - sometimes challenging, often hauntingly beautiful in its resolution of dissonances and it's syncopations - may be familiar to many as one of the Ravel works used in the 1992 French film "Un Coeur en Hiver."

Join us next week, for more new releases (and releases new to us) on Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Today's Special - February 25th, 2015

This morning, during "You Asked for It!"  we added a new release as we wrap up our musical celebration of Black History Month.   This new Steinway and Sons release features beautiful concert transcriptions of songs that were made famous by Billie Holiday.

Lara Downes is a Steinway Artist who recently released another CD with cellist Zuill Bailey focusing on works by American Composers.  All of these songs, so closely connected to the career and life of Lady Day - who has been called a social phenomenon of her day - have all been arranged by Composer Jed Distler took his cue from Downes, who wanted these arrangements to reflect the full mutifaceted complextiy of American music from blended cultures.
Lara Downes, piano
Steinway & Sons 30026
ISBN# 0 34062 30026 6                                                                                                                                                                                     Available in stores and online on March 10, 2015                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                


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